Archive for December, 2015

December 28, 2015

James Kennedy Family Restaurant in Plattsburg


by Ed Chasteen

The Clinton County Courthouse is in the next block and across the street. Directly in front and visible through the big picture window as we sit for breakfast is Main Street Cleaners, est.1895. We bike here to breakfast three or four Saturdays every year. I’ve never seen CHINA before. In big red all capital letters, the word is writ large across the front of the redundant cleaners.

Dominique is our waitress this morning. I had called several days back to make sure Kennedy’s would be open this day after Christmas. I had called again this morning to say there would be four of us in about an hour. “What’s CHINA mean?” I ask Dominique. “A restaurant.” She says. And just next door to 3 Amigos—A Mexican Restaurant.

Four of us had rendezvoused at Mt. Gilead Church and School Historic Site on Plattsburg Road at eight o’clock this morning. No wind, 45 degrees, overcast, possibility of rain. Thirteen miles of rolling hills between us and breakfast in this county seat town of 2,319. A statue of David Rice Atchison stands in front of the courthouse. Atchison was a United States Senator who, according to the inscription at the base of the statue, was President of the United States for a day, March 4, 1849.

Another block up Main Street we would have needed to pedal in order to see Atchison ‘s statue JJ’s for several years was directly across the street from the court house, Atchison in full view from the front window every Saturday that we came, and their 99 cent all-you-can-eat pancakes brought us often.

But then one day when I called, no one answered. From Liberty on my bicycle I came to find the place closed. And for more than a year we removed Plattsburg from our weekly biking schedule. Then Mike Moore, a Greater Liberty Rider living in Cameron, told me about a place in Plattsburg where some riders from Cameron sometimes came. Soon after we met Mike and his riders at Miguel & Lefty’s. Then before we planned a return visit, it closed and now sits empty a few blocks over, metal bars across the front door.

For a couple of years Plattsburg fell off our ride-to-breakfast schedule. Then I heard that a new place had opened. On Main Street. A block closer to Missouri 116 than JJ’s had been. Coming into Plattsburg on state route C, we pull to a stop at 116, a convenience store to our left, the town cemetery on our right. The town straight ahead as C becomes Main Street. James Kennedy Family Restaurant on our left in the middle of the second block.

This morning is our fourth time at James Kennedy. Five years we went to JJ’s. We loved the place and grieved when it closed. Now James Kennedy! Long may it live. Often may we come.

The bill ,when Dominique brings it, offers hope, even as it is puzzling. Seems this good place has a dual identity. The door by which we entered and the menu by which we ordered say James Kennedy Family Restaurant, but the bill identifies this place as Glory Days Sports Bar and Grill.

Here”s hoping that this good place can keep Plattsburg on the list of small towns out from Liberty 90 minutes or so by bicycle and draw us hither a few times every year for breakfast. For a list of these small towns and their cafes, visit

Riders at breakfast today: Bill Hessel, Jason Swan, Steve Hanson, Ed Chasteen


December 23, 2015

Open Letter to Islamic Communities in Greater Liberty

Since 1985 I have been serving my church, Second Baptist in Liberty, Missouri, as Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. As Ambassador, I have the honor and privilege of taking folks from my church to visit other faith communities and inviting folks from other faith communities to visit my church.

We do this with the understanding that our sole (soul) agenda is to build bridges and form friendships. We are all committed to our faith. When we visit and when we receive visitors, we do so knowing that we do not plan to join or to change. Just to know each other.

Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White

Christian, Buddhist and Jew

Hindu, Baha’i and Muslim too

All are precious in our sight

As people of faith, our lives are shaped and directed. Living near each other on this little piece of God’s good earth as neighbors during this time of religious tension in the world gives us a chance to show the world how our perceived differences may be finessed and our mutual strengths displayed.

Together we are stronger than we are separately. For that to be true, we must know one another. So weekly from my church over the next several months I will invite folks, in groups no larger than 12, to come with me to visit an Islamic community in this place we call Greater Liberty.

Because our church is in a town called Liberty and I can ride my bicycle 125 miles on a very good day, I drew a 125-mile circle with our town at its heart and call this place Greater Liberty. A fitting name for this good place, Greater Liberty is an even better name for this great principle: We all have Greater Liberty than we usually expect of ourselves to live above and beyond all the labels applied to us and become World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. Our faith first gives us roots. Then wings.

The variety of folks living in this place called Greater Liberty exceeds all the color and faith labels mentioned above, and all are crucial in making us the Heart of America: Spiritually, as well as geographically.

I will ask those who come with me and those who receive us to write their names and email addresses in the notebook I bring. I will write a story about our time together and email my story to everyone. Our visiting with each other will build bridges that could carry us over troubled waters at this and some future time. And our example might inspire those living elsewhere to follow our lead.

Your Friend,

Ed Chasteen

816-803-8371 bike phone

December 19, 2015

An Unexpected Breakfast


by Ed Chasteen

Bright sun on a cloudless morning can’t overcome the coldest day so far this year, and no one comes to ride. “Breakfast with Santa at 9 o’clock” announces the sign in front of Ferellview’s Christian Church. I could drive on to Dearborn as planned and explain to the folks at Dearborn Cafe that except for the cold, a dozen or so bikers would have come. Or I could wait here for breakfast with Santa.

Instead! Back to Liberty and Ginger Sue’s and a parking spot just three steps from the front door. My customary table is taken, as is every table in the place. A lone chair at the counter is open. “I don’t want to sit on your hat, I say to the guy sitting a chair away. He turns to retrieve his hat. “Bret, what are you doing here? We were riding to Dearborn today.” I say. “Taking Jolyn to the airport,” he says. “She’s going to Indiana to see her folks for Christmas.”

Bret and Jolyn Prater are two of our regular riders. How we all three wound up sitting side by side in a different small town cafe than the one announced on our schedule for today is the kind of puzzling situation that adds zest to any day lucky enough to have one. Meant to be pondered. Not answered. For this one to happen at the Christmas season makes it even more provocative. And precious.

Now to my bicycle upstairs in the bedroom that used to be my daughter’s to ride the 34 miles to and from Ferellview to Dearborn.

December 19, 2015

Putting Greater Liberty on the Map

2015 by Ed Chasteen

I hear and read news of bad things that happen far away in other countries and on other continents. In ways I can never really understand, these bad things play themselves out in the place where I live. If that is true, and I know that it is, then this is also true: Good things that happen here where I live play themselves out in far away countries and on other continents.

“If it is to be, it is up to me.” These ten two letter words for years now have gotten me on my bicycle to ride out from my town 125 miles in all directions. My town is called Liberty, and I have dubbed all places within 125 miles as Greater Liberty. About four million people live within my day’s bike ride. This is but a tiny fraction of all the world’s people and a tiny piece of the world’s real estate. But this is my place. These are my people. Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White; Christian, Buddhist and Jew; Hindu, Baha’i and Muslim too; All our precious in our sight. Not just my sight. Our sight.

We are HateBusters. We respond to any act of hate in Greater Liberty. We teach people how to like people who are not like them. We never say no when asked to help. We never ask for money from those who need our help.

World events now make Muslims who live in Greater Liberty uneasy, unsure of their neighbors. So we HateBusters will visit at least once a week for the next several months with Muslim organizations and individuals in Greater Liberty. We do not go to change them or to join them. Our sole (soul) agenda is to be a good neighbor. Muslims need to know that we value their presence. Together we are stronger. Greater Liberty is our neighborhood.

Other countries and other continents will notice. Our behavior here will be played out there. Maybe not directly. And maybe not soon. The road may be long. But the journey will have started. What happens here in Greater Liberty will likely never be credited. We ourselves may not even recognize the value of what we have done. It’s the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

December 17, 2015

Our College and Our Town

2015 by Ed Chasteen

A dear friend who loved our town and our college and made marvelous speeches lauding both, would, in irreverent offhand asides to a chosen few, refer to us as “a little pissant college in a little podunk town”.With both coasts dismissing us as “flyover country,” such a self assessment kept us doubly humble while also poking fun at those who dismissively overlooked us. When I came to see that similar descriptions applied equally to every place on the planet when that place was thought of all by itself, I understood such comments as a call to arms, compelling me to want to become a World Class Person, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

Think globally. Act locally. Our little town is called Liberty. I can ride my bicycle 125 miles on a good day. So I drew a 125-mile circle with our town at its center and dubbed this place Greater Liberty. My students and I at William Jewell College started HateBusters to face down hate and teach people how to like people. My church, Second Baptist, in Liberty appointed me Ambassador to Other Communities of Faith. I take our folks to visit other faith communities. I invite other faith communities to visit us. Our sole (soul) agenda: to begin becoming friends. Now to all Muslims in Greater Liberty we plan to go, making friends on our minds.

As I’m writing these words, I’m sitting at table #1, just inside the door at Ginger Sue’s, the place I call my office, where over breakfast I do my best thinking and by both design and happenstance meet folks who make my day. I’ve finished my breakfast and been here about an hour when in walk Mike Oliver, son Matt and friend Grant. “I wondered who we’d see here today that we knew,” Mike says when they all stop by my table.

Mike is a graduate of my college. Now a lawyer with the Justice Department. Matt is a current student at WJC. Grant Brallier goes to Drury University in Springfield. “My grand daughter, Laura Haskell, goes to Drury.” I say. “She gets back tonight from England where she’s been for this semester.” “I know Laura,” says Grant. “We have the same major.”

I got here at 6:30. It’s 8:15 now. At 9 o’clock I’ve invited any of the 12 who went we me to Al-Inshirah two weeks ago to come again to the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, where we have a 10 o’clock appointment. To Al-Inshirah we took a college van. Today we go in my red PT Cruiser, license # H8BSTR. The HateBuster Mobile holds only four. I’ve promised to go once a week to visit the Muslim community in Greater Liberty. The place and the time will vary and not known far in advance, making it hard for others to plan to come. I will send email invitations. Some may drive themselves. So long as we have no more than 12, my self-imposed maximum.

Les Weirich and his wife, Carol, moved to Liberty a couple of years ago to be near their two daughters. Les and Carol quickly became always present and involved members at Second Baptist. Les joins me at nine and we drive to the ISGKC.

Jim Gordon, Pastor of Pineridge Presbyterian Church, went with us to Al-Inshirah. He drove this morning from home. He’s waiting in the parking lot at ISGKC when we arrive. As we greet each other, our hostess for the hour we will be here also comes to welcome us. Rubou Sous shows us inside. We remove our shoes and walk into the prayer room. Ruby, as she asks us to call her, pulls three chairs together and seats herself in a fourth chair facing us.

Ruby tells us about the construction we see and shows a picture of the completed building. She tells us about the adjacent school, one of the two Islamic schools in Kansas City. Ruby was born in Saudi Arabia, has lived in the U.S. since she was 17, and loves Kansas City. She lives near the ISGKC and often welcomes visitors.

Each time I ask a Muslim community to welcome us, I specify to them and to those I ask to come with me that we will visit for just one hour. I do this so that our host will not be burdened and those who come can plan their day. Dozens of Muslim communities live and work in Greater Liberty. With most of these good places still to visit, this is my plan.